Schuylkill River Trail

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Schuylkill River Trail
Pottstown Riverfront Park (2), April 2016.jpg
The trail runs along the Schuylkill River in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, at the Riverfront Park
Location Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Chester County, Pennsylvania, USA
Use Cycling, jogging
Hiking details
Season All

The Schuylkill River Trail is a multi-use trail along the banks of the Schuylkill River in southeastern Pennsylvania. Partially complete as of 2016, the trail will ultimately run from the river's headwaters in Schuylkill County to Fort Mifflin in Philadelphia, a distance of about 140 miles (230 km).

Complete portions of the trail include a section from Auburn to Hamburg, a 19.5-mile (31.4 km) portion from Reading to Pottstown, and a 23.2-mile (37.3 km) portion from Oaks to South Street in Center City, Philadelphia.[1]

Large stretches of the trail are rail trails. Parts of it belong to the East Coast Greenway, a 3,000-mile trail system connecting Maine to Florida.

Map of existing and proposed portions of trail on map of proposed regional trail system
  Existing
  In progress
  Planned
  Other trails

On many maps and street atlases, and on some of the trail's signage, the segment between Philadelphia and Valley Forge is still identified by the older name Philadelphia–Valley Forge Trail.[2]

Trail description[edit]

Auburn to Pottstown[edit]

Schuylkill River Trail at the Pottstown Riverfront Park in Pottstown, Pennsylvania

The Schuylkill River Trail begins at a trailhead located at the Kernsville Dam in Auburn, Pennsylvania just above Hamburg.[1] The trail continues through Reading, Pennsylvania to Pottstown, Pennsylvania until it reaches the Riverfront Park on College Drive near the Reading Railroad Pottstown Station. This section passes through the Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area, an area generally known for fishing in the Philadelphia metro.[3]

The Reading Railroad Pottstown Station is visible from the trail in Pottstown.

In lower Berks County, the trail follows the existing Thun Trail, named for industrialist Ferdinand Thun who founded the Textile Machine Works in Reading, Pennsylvania in 1892 (later moved to the borough of Wyomissing, a suburb of Reading, in 1896).[4][5] Plans are underway for a connection from Reading, north to Hamburg. The current northern edge links the trail with the Union Canal towpath.

The trail begins in North Reading, along Riverview Drive, then quickly crosses an old railroad bridge into West Reading. It then continues as a mixed surface path of macadam, gravel, coarse stone or chalk to Gibraltar where it becomes a poorly marked on-road bicycle route following Old River Road and Schuylkill Road to Birdsboro. From there, the trail follows the old concrete industrial collector, Armorcrast Road, to the rear entrance of a ballfield. The trail then goes off road as a gravel path to the county line where it meets the paved Schuylkill River Trail, which currently terminates in Pottstown.

Pottstown to Phoenixville / Mont Clare[edit]

Ducks on the Schuylkill River in the Pottstown Riverfront Park

Two routes have been proposed for this stretch. One would come down the right bank (Chester County side) and end near Cromby Generating Station, above Phoenixville, then use borough streets and the Mont Clare Bridge (PA29) to connect with the trail section along the Canal in Mont Clare. The other plan would bring the trail down the left bank to Mont Clare. It appears that both options may eventually be built, with the Chester County trail proceeding first and carrying the main SRT designation.

In April 2011, the Spring City to Cromby segment opened on the Chester County side. This segment includes a new trailhead on Township Line Road, near the Cromby Power Plant.

Mont Clare to Oaks[edit]

The trail in Montgomery County

The stretch of trail from Mont Clare to the Perkiomen Creek near Oaks opened in the spring of 2008. In the first phase of construction the southern section of the trail between Longford Road at the present watered end of the Oakes Reach of the Schuylkill Canal and the Oaks intersection with the Perkiomen Trail was constructed. This section follows much of the filled portion of the Oakes Reach and is paved except for a gravel segment of about half a mile (which also includes a short trail detour). To cross the three streams in this section, two new culverts were constructed and the trail temporarily routed over a historical aqueduct from the Canal at Crossman's Run. A new bridge was built across Crossman's Run for the trail and the paving was completed.

The historic Schuylkill Canal aqueduct carries the trail over Crossman's Run near Oaks

For phase 1, the northern section, upstream of Longford Road, is signed along the low volume Port Providence Road and Walnut Street, which run along the left bank of the Canal, to reach Mont Clare. In a second phase of construction for the northern segment, the Canal towpath on the canal right bank will be refurbished, and a small bridge constructed over a spillway near Port Providence. On February 14, 2008, a meeting was held to announce the survey work for the Phase 2 extension. This would provide an off road alternative between Longford Road and Mont Clare. It was expected that the towpath restoration itself would commence in the fall of 2010,[6] however Montgomery County put the project on hold due to budget constraints. In early 2013, construction was started on the towpath portion of the trail with improvements to the Route 29 underpass and construction of a new spillway and foot bridge opposite Port Providence.

Oaks to Philadelphia[edit]

The trail through downtown Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.

The next segment of the trail begins in Oaks at the southern end of the Perkiomen Trail and a trailhead at Pawlings Road. This paved segment runs along the abandoned trackbed of the former Schuylkill Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad. It runs beside U.S. Route 422 for a short distance, then runs through Valley Forge National Historical Park. After leaving the park at Betzwood, it continues along the river to Norristown, where it crosses over U.S. Route 202 and runs through the middle of the Norristown Transportation Center.

The trail continues eastwards, now parallel to the SEPTA Manayunk/Norristown rail line. On entering Conshohocken, it passes through industrial areas, under Interstate 476, and intersects the local Cross-County Trail.

Philadelphia[edit]

The Schuylkill River Trail passing through Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Shortly after crossing into the city of Philadelphia the trail segment ends. Trail traffic is briefly directed onto Nixon and Shawmont Streets, crossing the Manayunk/Norristown Line at the decommissioned Shawmont (SEPTA station).

The trail continues southeastward, unpaved, along the former Manayunk Canal[7] towpath of the Schuylkill Navigation System passing through the neighborhood of Manayunk to the end of the towpath at Lock Street. Trail traffic is then directed onto the sidewalk of Main Street and Ridge Avenue to Fairmount Park where the trail meets the southern end of the Wissahickon Trail. Trail traffic then continues on the bike path of Kelly Drive which widens into another section of paved multi-use trail.

The trail over the Schuylkill River in Center City

The trail then winds alongside the bank of the Schuylkill through the park, passing under many railroad and highway bridges and past several monuments. It runs through Boathouse Row and the Azalea Garden behind the Philadelphia Art Museum and next to the Fairmount Water Works. After that, the trail runs along the riverbank on the west edge of Center City Philadelphia as a waterfront park. At Locust Street the trail splits: a bridge carries the trail over CSX owned railroad tracks to terminate in Schuylkill River Park,[8] while a 2,000-foot boardwalk (opened October 2, 2014)[9] extends into the river and continues to South Street.

On May 20, 2009, as one of its last acts, the Fairmount Park Commission approved the acquisition of 12 acres (49,000 m2) of land along the Schuylkill River to extend the river trail.[10]

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has announced plans to continue the trail from the South Street Bridge to Christian Street.[11]

History[edit]

Many current and proposed sections of the Schuylkill River Trail, including the Thun Trail and the Oaks to Philadelphia portion, are rail trails, following the right-of-way of the former Schuylkill Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Live catenary wires are still in place above the trail between Norristown and Philadelphia. These are part of Amtrak's 25Hz traction power system, and supply power for both the Philadelphia to Harrisburg Main Line and Northeast Corridor.

The Shawmont to Manayunk portion of the trail runs along the towpath of the historic Schuylkill Canal (Schuylkill Navigation System).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "first_map_paths" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  2. ^ ADC Map (2001). Street Map Book, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania (16th ed.). Alexandria, VA, USA: ADC Map. pp. Map 35 (p. 39); Map 36 (p. 40). ISBN 0-87530-083-9. 
  3. ^ "Top Spots To Go Fishing In Philadelphia". 
  4. ^ "The Berkshire – Reading Eagle Newspaper". Readingeagle.com. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  5. ^ "Historical Society of Berks County PA / Berkshire Knitting Mill". Berkshistory.org. 1906-07-06. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  6. ^ "Canal Towpath Restoration Project – Summary of Meeting Minutes – Design Phase Meeting #27 – May 6, 2010" (PDF). Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  7. ^ [1] Archived June 22, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ "Friends of Schuylkill River Park". Fsrp.org. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  9. ^ "Philadelphia cuts ribbon on new boardwalk". 
  10. ^ Von, Jane M. "Fairmount Park Commission OKs acquisition of Schuylkill land parcels|Philadelphia Inquirer|05/21/2009:". Philly.com. Archived from the original on May 27, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  11. ^ "Schuylkill Avenue Master Plan" (PDF). Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. 2013-05-07. Retrieved 2014-03-28. 

External links[edit]